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Council waste bosses among record severance payoffs

At least six council waste bosses received pay-offs of £100,000 or more after leaving their jobs in the past two years, MRW can reveal.

The revelation comes after a Government minister accused councils of a “lack of respect” towards taxpayers after figures showed a record number of departing executives received six-figure pay-offs on top of their salaries.

Research by the Daily Telegraph found that more than 135 town hall officials were paid compensation for loss of employment over £100,000.

MRW has established that at least six of them were responsible for environmental services including waste and recycling.

Southampton Council paid its executive director of environment Lorraine Brown £133,970 when she quit in 2011.

Brown, who now works for Defra, left Southampton in the middle of a major industrial dispute with the council’s in-house refuse workers. Council staff walked out in a series of strikes over the summer of 2011 after the council threaten to sack them unless they accepted new contracts with reduced conditions.

Uncollected rubbish piled up in the streets and the local press later blamed the dispute for the city’s recycling rate falling to 24.8% from 27.2%.

Barnet council in London paid former director of environment Brian Reynolds £280,485 on top of a £107,000 salary. Reynolds now runs a council efficiency programme for the Local Government Association.

In Glasgow, the city’s former executive director for environmental services, Robert Booth, received £109,282 when he left the council in 2011 after 33 years. That year, he was criticised in the local press over gifts including hospitality from waste firm Viridor, which was later contracted to cover for council workers taking industrial action.

Brighton and Hove council paid out £169,300 and Somerset Country Council £116,168 to unnamed directors of environment.

Tom Jeffrey was praised for overseeing a doubling in recycling rates and cleaner streets when he stepped down as executive director of community services at London Borough of Croydon in 2011 with a £141,847 payoff.

Jon Rouse, the council’s chief executive, said: “Tom has made a big impact in his relatively short time in Croydon and has played a huge part in helping the council meet ever-exacting standards, particularly in the area of waste management.”  

Several months later Croydon also paid out £46,385 to executive director of planning and environment Stephen McDonald when he left the job after just four months’ work. McDonald also received £47,279 salary, £10,969 pension contributions and £34,314 for three months’ notice.

The council said McDonald left after “difference in expectations over the balance of the role” and praised the environment chief for “having the foresight to recognise that the scope of the role was not playing to his strengths”.

In November, research by MRW’s sister title, Local Government Chronicle, found that 22.4% of councils finance directors expect to reject the funding freeze announced by chancellor George Osborne and raise council taxes to fund services.

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